Thursday, July 15, 2010
As I cleaned a closet, I discovered this wall hanging that I kept in my toddler's room in the late 1970's. It is by Dorothy Law Nolte, copyright 1963. It occurs to me that if children learn what they live, in my family, it has to be computers. If we use the definition of geek to mean one who is obsessed with computers, technology and new media, that's my family.
When I attended college in the Sixties, it was easy to find the smart guys--they carried slide rules, the high tech of the era. For me, the most technology I could find at the time was a manual typewriter or a movie projector that I could thread for high school classes to watch a movie.
When I taught English, it was in the dark ages without a Xerox machine, a word processor, spread sheets, or a calculator. I only had an electric typewriter and purple ditto stencils with a straight edge razor blade for typos. When I calculated grades at the end of a marking period, my husband brought a huge calculator home from his company so I could compute student grades. When personal computers became available, it seemed like a gift from the gods--word processors, spread sheets, calculators, wow! What a concept! Find a need and fill it.
We bought one of the first personal computers we could find, an Ace Franklin computer with a klunky DOS program to learn and a tiny memory. That was when a floppy drive really meant floppy. Many computers later, it has progressed from being a doorstop to being an antique. That antique still sits in my basement.
Over the years, we have accumulated the latest and greatest technology as we watched the computer age evolve on that rapidly accelerating technology train. Many summers, my husband, my son and I would clutter the dining room table with old computers to tear apart to repair and update the computers that I needed in my high school library. Being in charge of a high school library gave me a perfect opportunity to use all the latest technology for that field. My dining room table has been used for computer repair more than for eating. It is no small wonder that my son's work is in computers to keep up on the cutting edge of technology.
The torch has been passed. My granddaughter received a toy computer for her second birthday, and she quickly progressed to the adult computers at her home. She likes to play with my computer when she visits and I marvel to see how little ones gravitate to computers, cell phones and digital cameras. They seem to be born with a technology gene. Now she is five and has her own real laptop with her own games, favorite web sites, passwords and the necessary jargon. She says to me, "Grandma, I will copy and paste this drawing that I did on Paint". Last week she couldn't get into her favorite web site and said, "The network is down." Dorothy Law Nolte was right, Children Learn What They Live.